According to a recent report by Google and the Boston Consulting Group, 75% of Koreans would rather give up newspapers, chocolates and fast food over mobile internet connectivity. 

This report, ‘The Growth of Global Mobile Internet Economy‘, outlines the results of research commissioned by Google and conducted by Boston Consulting Group’s on mobile internet in 13 countries, covering current mobile internet usage, future usage forecasts and its impact on the overall economy in those countries.


One of the most note-worthy findings is that 60% of Koreans would rather give up alcohol and coffee than mobile internet, if they were made to choose. Considering the number of people with their head down to their smartphones on public transportation in Korea, this is not surprising. The distribution rate of smartphones in Korea is 74%, second only to Australia at 77%.


On average, Koreans use mobile phones for 3 hours and 34 minutes per day and apps for 13 hours per week, two times longer than US citizens. Korea’s well-developed IT infrastructure plays a great role in perpetuating these numbers. The high-speed internet network is distributed nationally and more than half of population use 4G (2013).


The impact of mobile internet on the Korean economy is significant. Mobile internet makes up 2% of total Korean GDP in 2013, at USD 28 billion, which is comparable to the earnings of the agriculture sector in Korea. In addition, the country’s mobile retail industry is growing. In 2014, mobile retail profit increased over 15% and reached USD 4.5 billion. Export scale has also been increasing quickly. Korean companies such as Samsung and LG settled into their positions as leaders in the mobile industry. Samsung smartphones comprised over 30% of smart devices sold in 13 countries while LG held 5% of the market.


Mobile internet is expected to drive new demands across many industries because it is not constrained by the time and space. As one of the most mature mobile internet market, Korean mobile internet will contribute to GDP’s 10% growth every year and is expected to reach USD 40 billion by 2017. Moreover, mobile ecommerce in Korea is expected to increase 15% every year until 2017, which will consequently result in growth of mobile shopping, mobile advertisement, apps, content and service. Given that the average Korean’s time on mobile devices greatly exceed their time on desktop computers and television, businesses are recommended to optimize their websites for mobile viewing or create mobile versions of their websites.